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2023 NFL Mock Draft: Version 2.0

By Justin Bales | 4/3/23 |

Anthony Richardson

1.01 Carolina Panthers - Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida

The Panthers traded a boatload for the first overall pick. They also traded early in the process, suggesting they know who theyíre going to take. I do believe itíd be a bit odd to trade up here for Bryce Young or CJ Stroud since theyíre generally seen as somewhat similar to prospects. Richardson is the one of the top three that is different, and he boasts the highest ceiling of the group. For that reason, Iím penciling him in as the first overall pick for the time being.

1.02 Houston Texans - Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

Everyone has question marks about Youngís size, but it isnít likely to matter for this pick. He was an elite option throughout his career at Alabama, and he has all of the skills to find success in the NFL. The Texans feature another new coaching staff, although theyíre locked in for a few years this time. Theyíre going to want to get ďtheir guyĒ at the most important position on the field, and Young is the top quarterback option in this class.

1.03 Arizona Cardinals - Will Anderson, Edge, Alabama

The Cardinals need plenty of help on the defensive side of the ball. Anderson is arguably the best prospect in this draft, and edge rushers are generally coveted in the NFL. Heís likely the safest prospect in the entire draft, but he also comes with tremendous upside. He can immediately help the Cardinalsí defense, making him the obvious option with plenty of questions surrounding Jalen Carter.

1.04 Indianapolis Colts - CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State

The Colts have had a revolving door at quarterback for quite some time, but theyíll have the chance to draft their future here. They may reach on Will Levis, but I believe talent wins out in this situation. Stroud found tremendous success at Ohio State, and heís flashed all of the makings of a solid NFL quarterback. We know quarterbacks are over-drafted, so he doesnít necessarily have to be the best prospect available to be taken at 1.04.

1.05 Seattle Seahawks - Tyree Wilson, Edge, Texas Tech

The Seahawks locked up Geno Smith in the offseason, and they have quite a bit of their offense figured out at this point. Instead, they can shift their focus to their defense, which they will need to fix if they want another shot at the playoffs. Wilson isnít as safe of a prospect as someone like Anderson, but he comes with nearly as much upside. He has game-changing ability off of the edge, and thatís one of the most coveted skills in the NFL.

1.06 Detroit Lions - Christian Gonzalez, CB, Oregon

This is somewhat of an odd pick. The Lions could go in several different directions, but I genuinely believe they feel comfortable with Jared Goff as their quarterback at the moment. Instead, I believe theyíre going to draft a cornerback or edge rusher here. There are several corners that could be the first off the board with Myles Murphy being the only edge option to consider here. Gonzalez has the potential to turn into a shadow CB1 in the NFL, and thatís an elite option to pair across from Jeff Okudah.

1.07 Las Vegas Raiders - Will Levis, QB, Kentucky

This is one of the most interesting picks in the NFL Draft. The Raiders signed Jimmy Garoppolo to a large contract, but thereís a potential out after the 2023 season. There might be some bias in this pick since Iím not a huge believer in Garoppolo. Iím also not a huge believer in Levis, but he comes with tremendous arm strength, and we know quarterbacks are generally selected early. Heís the fourth option before a tier break, and the Raiders could grab the future of their franchise with this pick.

1.08 Atlanta Falcons - Lukas Van Ness, Edge, Iowa

Van Ness didnít start a single game in college, but that isnít going to matter here. He boasts elite tools, and there are more questions about why Iowa didnít start him rather than his talent. Atlanta could use help in their secondary, but getting a high-end edge rusher is a way to help that unit. They featured one of the worst pass rushes in the NFL last season, and Van Ness would immediately help them turn that around.

1.09 Chicago Bears - Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

This could be an ideal spot for the Bears. Carter wouldíve been an option at them if they kept the first overall pick, so getting him here would be a major win. Some believe heís the most talented player in the NFL Draft, but he has a plethora of off-field concerns. It isnít likely that he falls all that far because of his elite talent, and the Bears are a team that could opt to take that shot on him. He can provide immediate help and could turn out to be the steal of the draft in five years.

1.10 Philadelphia Eagles - Nolan Smith, Edge, Georgia

The Eagles donít have many needs throughout their roster. We could see them going with RB Bijan Robinson, who will immediately take their offense to the next level, but I donít expect that to happen this early. The Eagles have several outstanding edge rushers that Smith can learn from early in his career. Heís a freak athlete, and he has the potential to turn into one of the league's premier edge rushers in a few seasons.

1.11 Tennessee Titans - Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

The Titans are in the process of blowing up their roster, although it doesnít look like theyíre ready to move on from Ryan Tannehill. Johnson is a player that is ready to start from day one, and the Titans are going to need that. He can be their long-term option at left tackle for whoever is under center. Overall, there are plenty of holes throughout this roster, but tackle may be the biggest need.

1.12 Houston Texans - Peter Skoronski, OT, Northwestern

The Texans hired DeMeco Ryans as a defensive-minded head coach. Oddly enough, they grabbed their quarterback of the future with their first pick. They can continue bolstering their offense with one of the best linemen in the draft. Skoronski may not have the arm length to play tackle in the NFL, but there have been crazier developments in history. Houston is a great option for Skoronski since they need help at tackle along with the interior offensive line. If he doesnít work at tackle, he can shift inside without issue.

1.13 New York Jets - Broderick Jones, OT, Georgia

The Jets could potentially include this draft pick in a trade for Aaron Rodgers. Until then, theyíre going to be making this pick in this mock draft. They desperately need help along the offensive line, specifically tackle. Jones is a massive option that could potentially play left or right tackle early in his career. His ceiling is a dominant left-handed tackle, but heís going to need plenty of work to get there. Heís a high-upside option in this draft.

1.14 New England Patriots - Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh

I considered Darnell Wright here for New England, but I opted against that. They could potentially use an offensive tackle, but they do need help on the interior defensive line. Kancey doesnít have great size for the position, but heís extremely quick with elite explosion. It isnít appropriate to compare anyone to Aaron Donald, but he could be in that type of mold. Heís undersized but can win in the passing game and disrupt the run game with his speed.

1.15 Green Bay Packers - Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

The Packers could still use help in their receiver room. They still need to make a decision on Aaron Rodgers, but theyíll need help on the outside regardless of who their quarterback is. Smith-Njigba has dropped a bit because of injuries throughout his season, but Green Bay shouldnít overthink this one. The wide receiver outplayed Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson at Ohio State, and both of those players found success in the NFL as a rookie. Smith-Njigba comes with more than enough upside to warrant this pick.

1.16 Washington Commanders - Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

If Witherspoon had a slightly more filled-out frame, he would likely be the first projected cornerback off the board. Thereís a very real possibility that he could make his way to the top of the draft board for his position as he boasts elite talent. He could potentially fill it out, though, and the Commanders need help in their secondary.

1.17 Pittsburgh Steelers - Joey Porter Jr., CB, Penn State

The Steelers are in need of a cornerback or offensive tackle. The cornerback position is still loaded at this point in the draft, while there arenít truly any offensive tackles that deserve this pick. I had Porter near the top 10 in my initial mock draft, and he has the talent to be selected significantly higher than this. Itís a loaded class at the position, which is the only reason heís falling this far. He has the potential to be a shadow option in the NFL, and heíd get a warm welcome from Pittsburgh fans.

1.18 Detroit Lions - Myles Murphy, Edge, Clemson

The Lions drafted Aidan Hutchinson last year, and itís clear heís going to be a great player in the NFL. They also drafted a cornerback earlier in this draft to help fix their secondary. The other way to fix their secondary is to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. Murphy was once seen as a top 10 pick, but he seems to be sliding a bit. He would benefit from playing with Hutchinson, and this could solidify Detroitís defense for the next 10 years.

1.19 Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Deonte Banks, CB, Maryland

This is somewhat of an odd spot for the Buccaneers. Brian Branch could potentially fit better in their defense, but Banks is shooting up draft boards after his outstanding combine. Ultimately, this is a bad roster, and it makes more sense to draft the better overall prospect. Thatís Banks, and he has the ability to become a high-end cornerback in the NFL. There are plenty of holes here for the Bucs, including quarterback, but Banks makes the most sense at the moment.

1.20 Seattle Seahawks - Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

The Seahawks gave Geno Smith a big contract in the offseason, and it makes sense to give him more weapons. Washington isnít just a massive option in the passing game, but he will be able to help at a high level in Seattleís run game. With Washingtonís run-blocking prowess, heís going to be a great option in play action and a solid complement for DK Metcalf and company.

1.21 Los Angeles Chargers - Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Is this fantasy drafting? Maybe, but it also fully makes sense. Robinson is an outstanding running back prospect, and thereís a very real chance heís selected drastically higher. The NFL doesnít care about running backs early in the draft, though, so he could also fall. Austin Ekeler asked for a trade, and the Chargers havenít found anyone to fill his shoes. If they do opt to trade him, they could immediately replace him with Robinson, who should immediately be one of the best backs in the NFL.

1.22 Baltimore Ravens - Quentin Johnston, WR, TCU

The Ravens franchise feels like itís on fire at the moment. It looks like Lamar Jackson isnít going anywhere, and the Ravens essentially talked down on their wide receivers. They did say that they werenít going to stop trying to find a WR1, and Johnston is the type of player that comes with that upside. He has everything you look for in a top receiver, and he can take some of the pressure off Mark Andrews and the other pass catchers.

1.23 Minnesota Vikings - Zay Flowers, WR, Boston College

Adam Thielen signed with the Panthers earlier in the offseason, and the Vikings are going to have to come out of this draft with a new wide receiver. Some believe Flowers is the best of the bunch, as he comes with elite route running. Heíd see plenty of single coverage with Justin Jefferson on the other side, and he could immediately help the Minnesota offense in 2023.

1.24 Jacksonville Jaguars - Brian Branch, CB, Alabama

The Jaguars need help in their secondary, and Branch is a hybrid option that can play cornerback, specifically in the slot, or safety. Heís solid in coverage, and heís outstanding in run support for his position. Heís an NFL-ready player that can rush the passer as well. Branch is the type of player that will help Jacksonville potentially make a deeper playoff run.

1.25 New York Giants - OíCyrus Torrence, iOL, Florida

Itíll be difficult for the Giants to pass on a wide receiver here, but they could do that if Torrence falls a bit. Heís an extremely solid interior offensive linemen, and he would immediately help from day one. They gave Daniel Jones a big contract in the offseason, and it seems as if they may have a potential plan with signing multiple wide receivers and trading for Darren Waller. Instead of a receiver, they can help keep Jones upright with this pick.

1.26 Dallas Cowboys - Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame

Mayer is seen as the best tight end prospect in a loaded class. Heís a player that can do it all, and heís likely the most polished tight end in this draft. With Bijan Robinson off the board, the Cowboys could opt to help their offense in a different way. Mayer is a solid blocker, and heíll immediately contribute in the passing game.

1.27 Buffalo Bills - Jordan Addison, WR, USC

Thereís a very real chance that Addison is the best receiver in this draft. Itís all about who you prefer as a team. The Bills gave Gabriel Davis a chance last season, and he struggled with injuries. It isnít out of the question that they could add Addison as their second option behind Stefon Diggs. Iím a bit worried that Addison isnít exactly the type of player that will take the top off of a defense, and he may need a bit more volume to find consistent success. Regardless, itís easy to be excited about someone with his talent in this Buffalo offense.

1.28 Cincinnati Bengals - Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah

Kincaid is flying up the draft boards because of his receiving potential. He flashed as a route runner with tremendous hands during his time at Utah. He isnít the best blocker, but he can make a few blocks in the right position. The Bengals could use help at tight end, and heíd add another high-end receiving option for Joe Burrow.

1.29 New Orleans Saints - Jalin Hyatt, WR, Tennessee

The Saints still have a need at wide receiver, although there are rumors that theyíre trying to work out a deal with Michael Thomas. Regardless, theyíre relying heavily on Chris Olave, whoís proven he can play in the NFL. Hyatt boasts elite speed, and heís a sure-handed player. If he added a bit of weight to his frame, he could be the first receiver taken off of the board. Heíd make an outstanding pair with Olave for new quarterback Derek Carr.

1.30 Philadelphia Eagles - Cam Smith, CB, South Carolina

If the Eagles go with an edge rusher early in the draft, they could potentially take a cornerback at this spot. Smith has good coverage instincts, and he can learn from some of the top corners in the NFL in Philadelphia. This isnít a position of immediate need for the Eagles and their overall roster will allow them to go a few different ways, but cornerback is likely on their radar.

1.31 Kansas City Chiefs - Darnell Wright, OT, Tennessee

The Chiefs need help at offensive tackle. Wright is massive, and will likely stay on the right side where the Chiefs have a hole to fill. Heís a relatively safe option at this point in the draft and could immediately help keep Patrick Mahomes on his feet.

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